Voline, The Unknown Revolution, 1917-1921 (1947)

Book Two: Bolshevism and Anarchism


The Preparations

One notable task had been successfully performed by the "Soviet power": in the spring of 1918 it already had pushed the organization of its governmental and statist cadres -- cadres of police, the Army, and those of the "Soviet" bureaucracy -- fairly far. Thus the base of the dictatorship was created, sufficiently solid, and completely subordinated to those who had established it and who were maintaining it. It was possible to count on it.

It was with these forces of coercion, disciplined and blindly obedient, that the Bolshevik government crushed several attempts at independent action which were made here and there.

Also it was with the help of those forces, rapidly enlarging, that it ended by submitting the Russian masses to its fierce dictatorship.

And it was with those same forces, once it was sure of the unreserved obedience and passivity of the major part of the population, that it turned against the Anarchists.

During the revolutionary days of October, 1917, the tactics of the Bolsheviki with regard to the Anarchists boiled down to this: to utilize the latter to the maximum as elements of combat and "destruction", helping them, to the necessary degree (with arms, et cetera) but supervising them closely.

However, when the victory was achieved and power won, the Bolshevik regime changed its method.

Let us cite a striking example:

During the hard fighting in Moscow in October, 1917, the staff of the Dvintsi (the Dvinsk regiment, previously referred to) was installed in the quarters of the Moscow Soviet. In the course of events a Bolshevik "revolutionary committee' also was set up in Moscow and proclaimed itself "the supreme power". And directly the staff of the Dvintsi, known as [being composed of Anarchists], became the object of supervision, mistrust, and suspicion by that committee. A net of spies was spread around it. A sort of blockade impeded its movements.

Gratchov (an Anarchist who commanded the regiment) saw clearly that the Bolsheviks were concerned, not with the true Revolution, nor with the immediate problems of the new Russion nation, but only with rivalry and the taking of power. He felt that ihey were going to emasculate the Revolution and lead it to its ruin. A deep anguish seized him. In vain he asked himself how to seize and stop in time the criminal hand of the new power, ready to garrote the Revolution. And he conferred with several comrades who, alas, were powerless like himself.

For want of something better he had the idea of arming the workers as well as possible. He sent rifles, machine guns, and ammunition to several factories. Thus he hoped to be able to [help] prepare the masses for an eventual revolt against the new importers.

But Gratchov soon perished, and suddenly. Summoned by the Bolshevik authorities to Nishni-Novgorod "on military business", he was shot, under exceedingly mysterious circumstances, by a soldier who didn't yet know how to handle a rifle. Certain indications impel us to suppose that he was assassinated by a mercenary in the pay of the "Soviet" power.1

Later all the revolutionary regiments of Petrograd and Moscow which had participated in the fighting in October were disarmed by the Government. In Moscow the first regiment to be disarmed (by force) was that from Dvinsk. And soon afterward, throughout the country, all citizens, without exception, and including the workers and their organizations, were ordered, under penalty of death, to turn in their arms to the Bolshevik military authorities.


1 The circumstances connected with the death of the Anarchist Durruti to Spain in 1936 pointedly recall the Gratchov case.